North Korea Fires Four More Test Missiles: Should U.S. Be Worried?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Four more missiles -- North Korea just shot off four more missiles. They are short-range missiles, but is this a preview of what's to come? And what, if anything, should we do? Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton joins us. Short range, but?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, I think this could be the prelude to a July 4th special. These are basically shore-to- ship, anti-ship missiles that I think the North Koreans were using as a signal to the U.S. not to get too close to their coast. Whether there's more to come, who can say.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's sort of interesting. We were tracking that ship, that North Korean ship that was suspected of having contraband on it, and it turned around. What -- I mean, it's, like -- that's peculiar. Never went anyplace. Now it's turned around.

BOLTON: Well, you can speculate on this. I'll give you one pretty good speculation. I think it may have thought it could get into a port in China undetected, refuel and then go on to Burma. And it realized with the U.S. destroyers tracking it that it wasn't going to be able to do that. It didn't have enough fuel to go anywhere, so it just went back to North Korea this time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Wouldn't you love to be the fly on the wall listening to communications from that captain back to North Korea to find out what they're talking about?

BOLTON: Well, that's why I wish we had boarded the ship. I mean, I - - you -- you can never tell with the North Koreans. There's always a risk it was a bait-and-switch. But I have a feeling that it had something they didn't want us to know about, and now they'll have to find another way to get it out of North Korea.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we've had six-party talks. We've had agreements. We've had all that. And we've been at war for 50 years. What do they want?

BOLTON: Well, I think, fundamentally, they just want regime survival. But to get that for them means they're a threat around the world, not just in northeast Asia, but in the Middle East, too. They're the world's largest proliferator of ballistic missile technology. They clearly have nuclear cooperation with Iran and Syria. So they really are a global threat.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you think that they are so sealed off from the world in so many ways, and the people who live there believe that they are in paradise and they believe that we are the enemy and they believe that we want to invade them and destroy them. I mean, that is just -- that's what they think.

BOLTON: Well, that's why the pressure that China can exert on them is so important. And yet China still to this day has a vice foreign minister on the way to Moscow to try and revive the six-party talks, not anything serious that's really going to address this threat.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, that's what I don't understand about China because I know you've told me before that China doesn't want -- they don't want North Korea to fall apart and have all those North Korean refugees pour into China. But the alternative is, is to let North Korea to continue what it does, build up its nuclear program, for Japan to go into a full-scale panic and do its own nuclear program. And now -- now China's got one of its -- you know, its not so friendly neighbors with nuclear weapons. And that seems to me worse than having the refugees.

BOLTON: I don't think there's any question about it. China's policy is internally contradictory. There's no way of escaping it. The refugee problem would be intense in the short term, but frankly, compared to the threat of a nuclear North Korea and the implications for China of a nuclear Japan and the other threats to its own stability, I would think there's a way to get through to their top decision makers. I think that's something the U.S. could do with vigorous diplomacy focused on China, but neither the Obama nor the Bush administrations chose to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there are two choices with China. Either try to put pressure on China, or you can sort of cut yourself a deal and say, Look, if they do come in, you know, if North Korea falls apart and the refugees -- you know, we're there. We'll help. And we'll get everybody else to help because, you know, (INAUDIBLE) humanitarian crisis. We've helped in Pakistan. We helped all over the world.

BOLTON: Sure. I think we could handle it. I think the Chinese could handle it. I think there are tensions inside China. I don't think we've exploited the leadership tensions there enough ourselves. But I think that possibility exists. I think the Chinese are acutely aware that North Korea is an embarrassment to them. They fear the reunification of the peninsula, a reunited Korea. I think we can convince them that that's really not as much of a worry as a continued nuclear North Korea.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what's the worst-case scenario for this weekend out of North Korea within reason? I mean, obviously, if they blew us off the map, it'd be the worst-case scenario, but it of something that - - you know, is more likely to happen, or practical (ph).

BOLTON: I think the odds favor another ballistic missile launch, a Taepodong II, the long-range missile, possibly aimed in the direction of Hawaii, although we don't think it has the range to reach it. The biggest bad scenario would be a third nuclear test. There's been some evidence that they were preparing for it. The latest press indications of what our intelligence are don't seem to bear that out, but you can never tell with the North Koreans. They get better and better at concealing what they're up to.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is any risk they're going to turn it towards Seoul? I mean, there's -- I mean, it -- I mean, it's not that far away. And if they're really so unwilling and irrational, why do we think they're rational and won't hit Seoul?

BOLTON: Well, I think, fundamentally, they recognize that if they were to attack South Korea, particularly if they were to use chemical or biological weapons, the retaliation would be unbelievable. Secretary Colin Powell, when he was a civilian, after he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, used to say to people that if North Korea ever attacked the south with chemical or biological weapons, that we would turn North Korea into a charcoal briquette. And I think even they understand that.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's, of course, think -- you know, assumes that everyone's rational -- that they're rational. But I mean, that's the -- that's the fundamental thing that -- you know...

BOLTON: Well, fundamentally, that's why the only long-term solution is to get rid of the North Korean regime. As long as you have people with that kind of Hitler in the bunker mentality, you can't be completely sure they won't do something foolish.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you.

BOLTON: Thank you.

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